Let it be known that I'm writing this entry while watching "The Beach."
I took my time leaving Khao Sok then eventually headed south towards the town of Phuket. The ride was pleasant but the traffic was atrocious. I hadn't encountered big city traffic since I left Bangkok, and although I was more comfortable on the bike, it was still an exhilarating ride. After a couple death defying laps of downtown Phuket I finally found my meeting spot, O'malleys Pub. Months prior, my friend Nick and I had chosen O'malley's in downtown Phuket as our meeting spot in Thailand because it seemed to stick out like a sore thumb and therefore would be the single easiest place to find. With a little dumb luck, this was fairly accurate.
O'malleys is both a hostel and a pub. It may not be the ideal combination for everyone, but after spending 4 quiet days in the jungle it was the perfect place to end up. The Pub was closed when I arrived, so I let myself in. I found the owner, Steve, half asleep on the couch from the night prior and half-heartedly woke him up. I told him I would like to check in, to which he responded "Well, your already in aren't ya?" in a thick Irish accent. I then asked him if he had seen another American about "yay high" and held my hand to my waist. Steve pointed up stairs, so off I went.
After a trying a number of wrong doors, I finally opened one and found this:
Nick was fresh off the plane from the states and quickly learning how to adapt to the staggering heat in Thailand.
Nick and I spent the rest of the day wandering Phuket looking for a place to buy ferry tickets and picking out restaurants for dinner. When we arrived back at O'malleys, Steve was behind the bar and it was conveniently time for a beer. Nick promptly went to bed seeing as he had just spent 40 hours flying across the world and I started what would soon become a night I will never forget. O'malleys Pub was frequented by a small group of dedicated locals most of whom were ex-pats living in Thailand for various reasons. It was a Sunday night so the place was pretty much empty except for the local crowd. Long story short what started as a quiet night of being hustled by Steve at pool, turned into a not so quite night that included loud conversations about world politics, arguments on why soccer is an awful spectator sport, and eventually riding around on the back of some Thai girls moped. The evening culminated when Ollie, a 6'6" Norwegian who was in town for cheap dental work, and myself found ourselves raiding the beer fridge of a closed Thai restaurant at 3 AM while 2 Thai women were cooking for us in the back. Somehow or another we had befriended the owner's daughters that evening and then talked our way into one of the most unbelievable meals I have ever eaten.
It was a night I will not forget. The next morning Nick and I putzed around until our ferry came to take us to Ko Phi-Phi around mid-day. The ferry ride was exactly what I needed. I sat on top with my feet dangling over the side and simply watched in awe as we passed some of the most amazing scenery on earth.
Eventually we made it to Ko Phi Phi and after searching for what seemed like an eternity we finally found some beds for the night. Ko Phi Phi is a long strip of sand and palm trees that's been overdeveloped and turned into a thriving tourist town. Ko Phi Phi was also heavily impacted by the 2004 Tsunami, although you would've never known when glancing at it. The only Tsunami reminders were overgrown evacuation routes and the occasional old photograph on a store front.
Ko Phi Phi is the hottest place I have ever been, period. After calling it an early night, we moseyed around the next morning waiting for the climbing areas to fall into the afternoon shade.
The climbing was extremely unique with massive features on very steep walls.
It felt great to finally climb again. Something I was not prepared for though was the monkeys. The monkeys had learned to raid your climbing bag, but only when you are belaying. So after one close call, we made sure that whomever was belaying was always armed with a pile of small rocks. If you let your guard down for even a minute, the monkeys would be off with your camera.
Low tide (left) seemed to double the size of dry land on the island. A smoothie break became a twice daily ritual (right).
Ko Phi Phi is a place I would've loved to have visited 20 years ago. It's beautiful but has been completely ruined by the immense over development. It's crowded, loud, and filthy and the water is littered with trash- making anyone think twice about swimming. We'd originally planned on staying several days, but since neither of us liked the island we decided to bail for Tonsai.
A collection of stories and adventures from the FAMS director and instructors.